• Swansea keep the pressure on Championship leaders Norwich with win at Barnsley

    Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe scored in each half to help Swansea move within four points of Norwich.

    16 Jan 2021, 21:51 CET

    Swansea won 2-0 at Barnsley to keep up the pressure on leaders Norwich. The hosts had the better of the first half before Ben Cabango gave Swansea the lead just before the half-time whistle was blown.

    Jamal Lowe added a second goal early in the second half.

    Jack Walton and Victor Adeboyejo both returned to Barnsley's starting line-up. Swansea boss Steve Cooper made one change with Kyle Naughton recalled in place of Ryan Manning.

    New signing Ben Hamer was named among the substitutes following his move from Huddersfield.

    Swansea goalkeeper Freddie Woodman came out of his area early on to clear as Adeboyejo threatened.

    And the forward then fired over from the edge of the area with Marc Guehi in close attendance as Barnsley applied early pressure.

    Adeboyejo was making a nuisance of himself and he was in the thick of the action again, firing in a low shot from the right-hand side of the area which was saved by Woodman at his near post.

    Following the resulting corner, Conor Chaplin saw his goal-bound shot blocked in a packed penalty area.

    As the hosts continued to threaten, Chaplin's attempted through-ball just evaded Cauley Woodrow.

    Callum Styles fired a low 20-yard drive on target but it was straight at Woodman who made a comfortable save.

    However, Swansea took the lead against the run of play in first-half stoppage time when a long throw from Connor Roberts was met by a glancing header from Cabango, with the ball going inside Walton's right-hand post.

    A mix-up in defence between Michal Helik and Mads Andersen led to the visitors increasing their lead in the 55th minute, with Lowe seizing on the loose ball and shooting past the exposed Walton.

    Barnsley made a double substitution in the 62nd minute with Herbie Kane and Chaplin replaced by Romal Palmer and Carlton Morris.

    The latter was making his Barnsley debut after signing from Norwich. Barnsley skipper Alex Mowatt saw his deflected shot loop over the bar before Woodman then came to his side's rescue, making a superb save to keep out Callum Brittain's rasping drive.

    Walton was called into action at the other end, clawing away Roberts' curling free-kick.

    Another double substitution for the home side saw Adeboyejo and Michael Sollbauer make way for Luke Thomas and Toby Sibbick.

    Barnsley threw men forward in the closing stages but they were unable to find a way through.

    Swansea, who stretched their unbeaten run to six matches, are now four points behind Norwich.

  • Frank Lampard heaps praise on Mason Mount as Chelsea beat Fulham

    Mount scored the only goal of the game in the west London derby.

    16 Jan 2021, 20:59 CET

    Frank Lampard hailed "outstanding" goalscorer Mason Mount after his late strike handed Chelsea a 1-0 win over 10-man Fulham.

    The 22-year-old drove past goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 78th minute to end Chelsea's three-match winless Premier League run which stretched back to before Christmas.

    Fulham wing-back Antonee Robinson was dismissed for a flying tackle on Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta just before half-time to give the Blues a second-half numerical advantage.

    "I think it was (a critical goal)," the Chelsea boss said.

    "I think considering Fulham's recent form and our recent form going into the game.

    "For us, we know we wanted a win and we needed a win. The players approached it really well, we started the first half, we controlled the game. A little bit sloppy at the end of the first half but with 10 men the challenge was 'can we take advantage of this?'.

    "Can we stay in their half? Can we force them open? Can we move the ball quickly? And it wasn't easy, they know what they've got to do.

    "Then Mason got the goal and his overall performance in the game was outstanding but the spirit of the whole team and the desire to win that game was great.

    " The goal was Mount's first in the Premier League since September but Lampard was full of praise for the youngster, even drawing comparisons with his own career.

    "I thought Mason's performance all-round was fantastic, he's been very, very good for us, this year and last year.

    "He's a big example of when I mentioned youth, Mason turned 22 this week, and I mean – I came to Chelsea when I was 22 years of age and I wasn't blowing the world away in my first year at Chelsea, I was finding my feet. Mason's already got so many games under his belt."

    Fulham had gone into the game unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches but were unable to hold onto a point, and the result sees them remain in the bottom three, with manager Scott Parker seeing the red card as a turning point.

    "I've not seen the red card again, really," he said.

    "It definitely changes the game because the game becomes a lot different for us.

    "When we were growing into the game, I said we really got to grips with Chelsea and were starting to cause them some real problems and Antonee was probably at the forefront of that with the way that he was playing, defending well but was a real outlet for us. "So of course that did change the game."

  • Chelsea seal narrow derby win over 10-man Fulham

    Fulham had Antonee Robinson sent off just before the break.

    16 Jan 2021, 19:49 CET

    Mason Mount scored the only goal to hand Chelsea a 1-0 victory over 10-man Fulham at Craven Cottage.

    Frank Lampard's side's three-match winless run in the Premier League stretched back to before Christmas but they were able to capitalise on their numerical advantage when the 22-year-old drove past Alphonse Areola in the 78th minute.

    The Cottagers had gone into the game unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches but were unable to hold onto a point, a challenge which was made much more difficult when wing-back Antonee Robinson was sent off for a diving tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta just before half-time.

    The result moved Chelsea just one point behind Jose Mourinho's Tottenham, while Fulham remain in the relegation zone.

    In the 13th minute, Areola was forced into his first save of the game after Olivier Giroud sliced a ball towards the corner, but the French shot-stopper was able to dive and palm the ball round the post for a corner.

    Chelsea came close to breaking the deadlock in the 28th minute when Mount's shot rebounded off the crossbar only for Areola to make an important save to deny Antonio Rudiger's header from the following corner.

    Fulham had a chance to take the lead after a clever move but Ivan Cavaleiro, who had netted his second goal of the season on Wednesday against Tottenham, scuffed the final shot and it went wide.

    Ademola Lookman had back-heeled the ball to Robinson who squared it for his wing-back partner Kenny Tete before finding the Portuguese striker, but he was unable to capitalise.

    Just before the half-time break, the hosts were reduced to 10 men when Robinson was immediately shown a red card for a flying tackle on Chelsea captain Azpilicueta.

    VAR quickly reviewed the decision but agreed with the referee, with Robinson having both feet off the ground.

    At the start of the second half, Chelsea looked to capitalise on their numerical advantage and press forward as Fulham were forced back into their own third.

    However, the home side dug in and were able to make blocks and key challenges to deny the visitors any clear-cut opportunities.

    The Cottagers had their own chance to break when Ola Aina ran down the wing before cutting into the middle to get his shot away from outside the area but his effort went over the bar.

    Tammy Abraham tested Areola with a header just moments after coming on, and Christian Pulisic was close to tapping in the opener from a well-weighted cross from the right but it was just too far in front of him.

    Chelsea eventually benefited from their man-advantage and were able to find a way through the resolute Fulham defence when the ball fell to Mount in the area, who fired it past Areola to break the deadlock for Lampard's men.

    Ben Chilwell sent in a cross from the left and Areola decided to palm it away but instead sent it back into play, where it fell to the England international who drove low and into the back of the net to secure all three points.

  • Montpellier vs PSG

    16 Jan 2021, 19:46 CET

    There is a 13.4% chance of a draw.

    In simulations where the game is not a draw PSG, at 81.5%, are heavy favorites to beat Montpellier who have a 5.0% chance.

    In simulation wins, Montpellier upsets PSG by averaging 6.4 shots and 3.3 shots on goal.

    They average 1.8 goals in simulated victories vs just 0.4 in simulation losses.

    Overall, the average simulation score is PSG 2.6 to Montpellier 0.6.

  • Darren Ferguson a ‘very happy manager’ after Peterborough brush MK Dons aside

    Sammie Szmodics scored twice for Posh.

    16 Jan 2021, 19:07 CET

    Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson was left delighted after his side claimed a 3-0 derby victory over MK Dons.

    Jonson Clarke-Harris' seventh-minute breakthrough, which saw him turn in a Joe Ward cross, was followed by a welcome brace from Sammie Szmodics, who snapped a goal drought of almost four months.

    Szmodics struck for the first time in 17 games to double the advantage on the half-hour, before putting the result beyond doubt 20 minutes into the second half.

    Siriki Dembele was the architect of both of those goals. Dons dominated possession for long spells but rarely looked like making it count.

    Regan Poole went closest with a long-range blockbuster that crashed against the bar late in the first half.

    Posh boss Ferguson said: "Three points, three goals and a clean sheet, so I'm a very happy manager. "It was an excellent start and I was delighted to then see Sammie back among the goals. He looks like he is getting back to his old self and scoring will give him a lift.

    "He showed great composure to round the goalkeeper for the first one and was in the right place to get his reward again for the second one.

    "We all know the boy is a good player and I always felt it was only a matter of time before he got going again.

    "MK Dons had a lot of the ball but they didn't cause us many problems throughout the game.

    "The defensive part of our game – especially the communication and organisation – were excellent, as was the togetherness.

    "We're in a good place at the moment and hopefully we can go on a run."

    MK Dons manager Russell Martin said: "I'm obviously disappointed with the result, but not the performance that we produced. I think 3-0 is a really harsh scoreline.

    "We knew we were coming to face the most potent front three in the league with a makeshift defence and conceding so early on made it even more difficult.

    "But the way the players were still fighting for each other at the end of a second half they dominated is really pleasing.

    "The frustrating thing is that we conceded and allowed Peterborough to get their third goal with the only shot we had to deal with in that half.

    "That summed the game up. Peterborough had very little in terms of chances but took those that did come, whereas it was just a case of the cross or the final pass not quite being there for us.

    "It is clear and obvious we need to get important players back fit as quickly as possible and also replace those that have gone out of the building with quality."

  • Kenny Jackett salutes Portsmouth’s spirit and character following Fleetwood win

    John Marquis’ predatory early header handed Pompey a fourth win in five league games.

    16 Jan 2021, 19:06 CET

    Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett saluted plenty of spirit and character shown by his side as they edged a 1-0 League One win at Fleetwood.

    John Marquis' predatory early header handed Pompey a fourth win in five league games as they remain hot on the heels of Lincoln and Hull in the automatic promotion places.

    "It was a great win for us," said a delighted Jackett.

    "The lads showed tremendous spirit throughout.

    "In the second half in particular we limited a very good Fleetwood side to few chances. It was good to see us make sure they didn't create too many opportunities.

    "Ultimately, though, this was a game that was decided by a real quality goal. "It was a brilliant ball in from Ryan Williams I thought, and John Marquis has done what he does best. The 'keeper had no chance.

    "It would have been nice if we had made the game a little bit more comfortable towards the end, but that team spirit and a fantastic defensive awareness has worked for us.

    "We've made sure we closed the opposition down, and restricted them."

    Jackett was delighted to triumph in what was Pompey's first league fixture in almost a month.

    He added: "We'd been disappointed that the season had semi-stopped for us, in a time when we were going very well.

    "Today, this was a performance full of character, but we have to keep concentrating one way or another.

    "We have to prepare for the next game as best we can now, and it'll be like that now for a few months."

    Marquis netted the winning goal in the 16th minute, diving in to head home his 12th goal of the season in all competitions from Ryan Williams' pinpoint cross. The hosts went closest through debutant Kyle Vassell and Callum Camps as they sought a leveller before the interval.

    Marquis threatened to double Pompey's advantage in the second period, while Jordan Rossiter went close for Fleetwood when Craig MacGillivray saved his arrowing drive.

    Pompey hung on for the victory, though, ending Fleetwood's four-match unbeaten league run and condemning Simon Wiles to defeat in his first league game since taking over as interim boss following Joey Barton's departure.

    Wiles said: "It's disappointing not to have come away with anything from the game. "The way we started the game impressed me, and the chances we created in the first half.

    "Possibly we could have done better with them, but in terms of the way we played, I'm pleased.

    "All points are huge at this level, though, and though I am disappointed, there were a lot of plusses to take from the game and the overall performance."

    Marquis's winner is one which Wiles and his players can learn from.

    "That was pretty much the only chance he had in the first half and he's buried it," added the Fleetwood interim boss. "It's one we can learn from and also one we can move on from."

  • Jack Ross admits Alex Gogic rarely shows shooting ability in training

    The combative midfielder open his account in spectacular style in Saturday’s 2-0 Premiership win over Kilmarnock.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:58 CET

    Jack Ross has revealed that Alex Gogic's finishing is ordinarily so wayward in training that his teammates boot him out of shooting drills.

    So, the Hibernian boss readily admits that he was stunned to see the combative midfielder open his account in spectacular style in Saturday's 2-0 Premiership win over Kilmarnock.

    The Cyprus international unleashed an unstoppable drive after meeting a Christian Doidge knock-down – his first goal since joining the club from Hamilton last summer.

    It made the three points safe after Killie skipper Alan Power handed the hosts the breakthrough by turning a Josh Doig cross into his own net.

    Ross laughed: "I would like to say that I've seen him do that in training regularly, but I don't. He quite often gets chased out of the finishing drills when he tries to get involved!

    "It's a heck of a finish, to be fair, and I thought it capped an excellent performance.

    "I'm pleased for him and he's deserved it for his performances so far this season." The triumph was Hibs' first since December 23 and saw them leapfrog Aberdeen into third spot in the top-flight.

    Ross added: "The way other results have gone, and where we find ourselves going into a break from league action, is positive for us."

    Although Killie succumbed to defeat at Easter Road, an arguably more important victory came 24 hours prior when their appeal against Covid-related sanctions was upheld by a Scottish FA disciplinary panel.

    Killie were hit with a 3-0 forfeit after they could not fulfil a game against Motherwell due to the virus, while they were also fined GBP 40,000.

    But the controversial penalties were quashed following a hearing on Friday.

    Assistant boss Andy Millen said: "I was unfortunate to have it [Covid] myself – my whole family was down with it.

    "People making these decisions are not using common sense. They're not in the real world. "If anyone thinks they can stay away from it… well, you can do your best, but there are no guarantees.

    "You only need to see what's happening in English football; there's no hysteria. If the game is off, it's off. There's always another day for a game of football.

    "So, I was always quietly confident sensible people doing sensible things would get to the right answer – and they did that."

  • Jim Goodwin questions refereeing after St Mirren beaten at St Johnstone

    The visitors had Cammy MacPherson sent off.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:57 CET

    St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin claimed referee Steven McLean cost his side dear in Perth, as St Johnstone triumphed 1-0.

     Goodwin insisted the official got two key calls wrong as a Chris Kane strike separated the sides in a dour affair.

    Buddies midfielder Cammy MacPherson was sent off for a second yellow card nine minutes after Kane's crucial strike.

    But Goodwin insisted the foul on Israeli striker Guy Melamed did not merit a second caution. And he was adamant the ball had struck Melamed's arm in the build-up to Kane's 46th-minute winner.

    "I hate talking about referees, but Joe Shaughnessy headed the ball on to Melamed's arm, which was in an unnatural position way above his head," said Goodwin.

    "You'd be screaming for a penalty if that was a defender in the box, so why Steven McLean didn't give it is beyond me.

    "The sending off is another poor decision. The first yellow was borderline, Cammy got plenty on the ball.

    "The second one is a mistake. Cammy clearly won the ball but for whatever reason it was deemed another yellow card.

    "We lost the game to two poor decisions."

    St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson was just relieved to end a 10-game wait for a win.

    "I thought the first half was a real tight game," he said.

    "Guy had the best chance of the half that he probably should have put away, but apart from that there wasn't a lot in it.

    "I asked the players for a bit more energy at half-time and we got the early goal. Once we did that and they got a man sent off I didn't think we were good enough. But I'm just delighted to get the win.

    "I thought we defended really well and put our bodies on the line as soon as one of their players got into our box. "The three points are so important.

    "When you haven't won in a while it can sometimes be difficult to get over that line. I didn't think we were good enough on the ball in the second half and we allowed them to get into certain areas, but I would say we defended very well."

  • Alex Revell accepts decision not to award Stevenage a penalty in Tranmere draw

    Aitchison went down under a challenge, much to the annoyance of the visitors, who felt he had gone to ground too easily.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:53 CET

    Stevenage manager Alex Revell accepted there was not enough in a late incident involving Jack Aitchison to warrant his side being awarded a penalty in the goalless draw with Tranmere.

    With time running out in what was a game short of entertainment, Aitchison went down under a challenge, much to the annoyance of the visitors, who felt he had gone to ground too easily.

    There had been very few chances for either side, but the result was probably more satisfying for the hosts, who remain outside of the relegation zone on goal difference after extending their unbeaten run in League Two to four games.

    Revell said: "From the dugout, you're hoping that he gives a penalty.

    "I think Jack felt contact – how much of that contact, to be honest, was enough to give a penalty, I don't know, but it's very easy to crowd around and I think there could have been a lot more yellow cards.

    "But I don't really look at that, I look at the performance and, looking back, I think we're disappointed not to get the win.

    "From the amount of chances we created, we could have nicked it.

    "There's a bit of frustration because we obviously feel we can play better.

    "Defensively, we did very well because they wanted to go from back to front quite early and counter-attack on us, so I think the players were very good.

    "On the flip side to that, our quality to our front players probably wasn't what we've seen in recent games."

    The closest either team came to scoring in the first half was when Morgan Ferrier's cross took a deflection and came back off the near post.

    James Vaughan had Tranmere's best chance in the 57th minute when he turned on Ferrier's pass, only to be denied by Jamie Cumming's leg.

    Stevenage debutant Matty Stevens almost forced the breakthrough with a quarter of the game left when his shot across goal just eluded Luke Norris at the back post.

    Tranmere boss Keith Hill said: "I think that's our 10th clean sheet in 21 games, so in that respect we are on course for the type of clean sheets you should be getting if you're looking for promotion.

    "We've all got to pitch in with more goals, all of us, every single one of the players – outfield players, full-backs should be scoring goals.

    "We've got to make sure that we're supporting Vaughan with more goals and more goalscoring opportunities as a team and keeping clean sheets will keep us ticking along nicely.

    "I'm pleased with the defensive performance – absolutely superb.

    "I want us to be an organised, passing, pressing side, but when we get the ball, I want us to enjoy it a little bit more."

  • Jason Tindall furious at Jefferson Lerma dismissal as Bournemouth lose to Luton

    The midfielder was sent off in the first half as the Hatters went on to win 1-0 with a goal from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:51 CET

    Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall was furious with referee David Webb for sending off midfielder Jefferson Lerma in his team's 1-0 defeat at home to Luton.

    The Hatters earned their third win in four games thanks to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's goal midway through the second half after Lerma had been sent off in the 25th minute for leading with an arm in an aerial challenge with Tom Lockyer which left the Luton defender with a cut that required heavy bandaging.

    "I thought it was an outrageous decision. I think everyone that would have seen it would agree with that. I can't believe the referee would come to that conclusion," said Tindall.

    "I thought we were doing well until that point and that we were by far the better team and that we would have won that comfortably.

    "It was a pivotal moment. Jeff's gone up for a header, one of their lads has knocked him off balance and he caught him with his trailing arm.

    "When a decision is that blatantly wrong, you can't help but be angry and even at half-time the lads couldn't believe the decision," added the Bournemouth manager.

    The defeat leaves the Cherries trailing the automatic promotion places whilst Luton climbed into the top half of the table with victory at The Vitality Stadium.

    "If I was Jason I'd be a little bit narked about it but these things happen. The fact that it was a raised elbow, you can understand why the ref's given it," said Nathan Jones of the incident.

    "These are a fantastic side at this level. They've been recruiting for the Premier League so we knew we'd have to really do well to get something here.

    "It was a wonderful, wonderful win for us. To get four points from Bournemouth this season, however you get it, is brilliant.

    "They probably had about GBP 200 million on the pitch there and about GBP 1.5 million of it was us," Jones added.

    The first half was played at a frenetic pace but both sides were short of a cutting edge. Luke Berry's misplaced back header was seized on by Josh King but he could not make a firm connection with his volley.

    Later in the half, Simon Sluga saved from King at the near post after neat approach work from the Cherries. After few chances in the first half, Bournemouth were thankful for three brilliant saves from Asmir Begovic at the start of the second.

    First he denied Glen Rea with a brilliant reflex stop before a double save to deny first Berry and then Dewsbury-Hall.

    Bournemouth were reduced to attacking on the break and they almost took the lead when King broke down the left flank and slid the ball into the path of Dominic Solanke whose goal-bound shot was brilliantly diverted round the post by the recovering Dan Potts.

    Jones had switched to a back four at half-time to allow an extra man to push into midfield after starting the game in a 5-3-2 formation.

    The Hatters took advantage of their extra man as former Bournemouth forward Harry Cornick teed up Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the area and he buried a shot into the far corner.

    Tindall made a raft of changes in an attempt to get back into the game but Luton were relentless in their work rate and organisation.

    The usually free-scoring Cherries have struggled to break down both Millwall and Luton this week and the outcome of their quest for promotion is likely to depend in large part on their ability to find a way past teams who set up to frustrate them.

    The return of King ought to have provided a welcome tonic for Tindall but the Norway striker looks a shadow of the player who was linked with Manchester United in last January's transfer window.

    The Hatters can now look upwards after a good run of results ahead of a tough-looking trip to Brentford on Wednesday.."

  • Ian Evatt and Michael Duff both left frustrated after stalemate in Bolton

    Cheltenham remain winless in six games, while Bolton have not won since December 15.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:46 CET

    Rival bosses Ian Evatt and Michael Duff were united in their respective frustration as Bolton and Cheltenham played out a 1-1 Sky Bet League Two draw.

    Alfie May shot promotion hopefuls Town into a 54th-minute lead after Wanderers dominated the opening period. Striker Eoin Doyle, close to a hat-trick of first-half headers, finally scored his ninth goal of the season with three minutes remaining.

    Cheltenham, who host Premier League Manchester City in the FA Cup next Saturday, have not won in six league games.

    Bolton, one of the pre-season favourites to go up, have not won since a 1-0 success at Cheltenham on December 15.

    "It was very frustrating," agreed Evatt. "We have completely dominated the game from start to finish.

    "We had all of the possession, all the control of the possession and we created a lot of chances in the first half when we should have been ahead. "On another day, we could easily have scored two or three and should have been ahead at half-time.

    "Then we switched off for one set-piece. If you switch off once it sometimes costs you and that's what happened.

    "However, It would have been a travesty for us to lose. To get a point feels that way to be honest.

    "But there were lots of positives. We looked like a better team and I want us to start controlling games like that with possession.

    "Fortunately, we always seem to finish games strongly and weight of pressure eventually got us the goal.

    "But their goal knocked the stuffing out of us because we were in complete control."

    May's seventh goal of the season came after Will Boyle's initial header was pushed out by Matt Gilks.

    However, Doyle rescued the Trotters, shooting home from close range after excellent approach by substitute Arthur Gnahoua. Cheltenham manager Michael Duff agreed the stalemate was "frustrating".

    "In the first half, we weren't particularly good and we did well to get in at 0-0," Duff said.

    "We took the lead but we have lost the edge and can't seem to see out that win.

     "There have been too many tight games where we have had to be good to draw. And we weren't great.

    "We needed to go and get the second goal. Too many times we have taken the 1-0 and sat on it.

    "We are living on a knife edge too often at the minute. We weren't really poor but we weren't particularly good either.

    "Bolton, though, are a good team and ultimately it is not a bad thing to come away and get a point.

    "But as a manager you always want more and to give it up late, which we have done too many times this season, was frustrating."

    Town entertain fellow high-flyers Newport on Tuesday before the visit of City.

    "It is a big week – at this level it's probably as big as you can get," added Duff.

    "There was no question about the effort. I didn't see anyone taking their eye off the ball looking to next Saturday.

    "But City is a free hit for us, it's a day out for everyone."

  • John Hughes praises Ross County after comprehensive victory over Aberdeen

    Oli Shaw scored a brace in what was the Dingwall club’s first victory at the Global Energy Stadium since their opening-day triumph over Motherwell.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:46 CET

    Manager John Hughes praised his Ross County side after they beat Aberdeen 4-1 to move off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership and pick up their first home league win since August.

     Oli Shaw scored a brace in what was the Dingwall club's first victory at the Global Energy Stadium since their opening-day triumph over Motherwell.

    Hughes says he did not know it had been so long since County last won at home but loved the spirit his players showed to record such a comprehensive victory.

    He said: "Getting off to a fantastic start certainly helped us – and that's something we've been looking for.

    "Somebody mentioned our home record and I hadn't realised it was as poor in the league.

    "But I have said we need to make this a fortress and start picking up results.

    "Tactically, I felt we got it spot on, with the three attackers, who had plenty of pace in them.

    "We gambled, we sucked it in and hit on the counter and we played it over the top of them and it worked for us a treat.

    "These players have good legs in them and I'm really pleased."

    The Staggies took the lead after just 35 seconds when Iain Vigurs found Jermaine Hylton to the left of the 18-yard box.

    He then sent the ball back into the centre of the box to find an unchallenged Oli Shaw, who fired a low drive into the bottom-left corner leaving goalkeeper Joe Lewis flatfooted.

    Ross County dominated the opening period of the match and managed to double their advantage in the 20th minute.

    Harry Paton's cross from the right wing found Charlie Lakin in the box unchallenged and he fired a low drive past Lewis 10 yards out from a tight angle to score his second goal in two games.

    But the Dons reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time when defender Alex Iacovitti diverted Tommie Hoban's header into his own net from close range.

    However, County killed the game off six minutes from time when Ross Draper sent Vigurs' corner back into the box and Shaw fired a low drive into the back of the net from eight yards.

    Hylton then capitalised on a mix up in the Aberdeen defence in stoppage-time as he managed to catch Lewis out of his box to fire the ball into an empty net to make it 4-1.

    Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes admitted it was a horrible afternoon for his team where Ash Taylor, Jonny Hayes and Ross McCrorie all left the park injured.

    "We have lost three players to injury and the biggest concern is Jonny Hayes and Ross McCrorie are leaving the ground on crutches," he said.

    "Ash has also suffered a problem with his back.

    "The opening period of the game, to go behind in less than 40 seconds wasn't good enough.

    "It gives the team at the bottom of the league real encouragement and their front three caused us problems.

    "For us not to be scoring more from the chances created is disappointing."

  • Lee Bowyer believes Charlton earned their luck in Bristol Rovers triumph

    Jake Forster-Caskey scored direct from a corner.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:43 CET

    Charlton boss Lee Bowyer insisted Jake Forster-Caskey deserved his fortunate winner as the Addicks beat Bristol Rovers 1-0.

    Athletic edged a tight game at the Memorial Stadium thanks to the midfielder's flat corner kick which evaded everyone and bounced in at the near post.

    The sides battled out a competitive game that lacked quality in the final third and the prospect of a goalless draw felt increasingly likely.

    But 26 minutes from time, Forster-Caskey's low left-footed delivery was not dealt with and beat Joe Day at the near post. Charlton's Albie Morgan was sent off for a challenge that brought a second yellow card with five minutes to play but the visitors held on as half-chances went begging for Rovers.

    "Jake was outstanding today and he deserved that goal," Bowyer said.

    "Obviously it had a bit of luck to it but he deserved it.

    "From start to finish we were very good. We won our battles all over the park. The only disappointing thing was we didn't score more goals.

    "If you said we'd won by three or four today I wouldn't have been surprised with the chances we created.

    "Based on the second half, we deserved to win. It was a very good, solid performance.

    "We forced them to go a bit long at times and got into a solid shape. Everyone all over the park worked really hard and competed really well. I'm really pleased.

    "I just told the players not to get carried away. Tuesday is going to be a completely different game. Peterborough are a good side. Long way to go, we've not even played half the teams yet."

    Paul Tisdale rued the absence of flair players Sam Nicholson and Erhun Oztumer through injury and ineligibility, and was unhappy with his players' part in the goal. "It was a poor goal to concede," Tisdale admitted.

    "I wouldn't say it was a mis-hit cross but it certainly wasn't the strongest corner we've ever faced.

    "It was a really disappointing one to concede and it has ended up costing us the game. "The defence and goalkeeper are all part of the same unit. Their job is to keep the ball from bouncing in that area.

    "It's not a case of blaming anybody in particular. They're all culpable, because they all go back and defend the box.

    "It's a soft, soft goal but we have to accept that it wasn't a good enough performance and move on.

    "We didn't have enough in the final third to cause them problems. I'd like us to be better in those areas.

    "We certainly missed the guile and movement of Sam Nicholson and we didn't find a way of replacing that."

  • Michael Flynn hits out at standard of refereeing as 10-man Newport hold Salford

    Salford manager Richie Wellens was absent due to illness.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:43 CET

    Newport manager Michael Flynn fumed at the standard of refereeing as his 10-man team missed the chance to go back to the top of League Two following a 0-0 draw with Salford.

    Salford co-owner and former Manchester United captain Gary Neville made the long trip to Rodney Parade but with his manager Richie Wellens absent due to illness, the visitors could not find a goal.

    Newport's Josh Sheehan was sent off for a nasty tackle on Ash Hunter in the 58th minute but Flynn's side actually improved after losing their Wales midfielder and finished the game the stronger.

    Sheehan was not in control of his lunge at Hunter but Newport boss Flynn was unconvinced by the decision to show him a red card.

    "The fourth official has given it and I don't think he gave anything all day," Flynn said.

    "If it's a red card then I think football is in trouble. I don't think there is any point appealing these days."

    Newport failed to score for the first time this season. Flynn added: "We weren't good enough in the first half.

    "Having watched it back how we haven't got a penalty at the end is beyond me.

    "The level of officiating was way, way below the standard needed for professional football, but we've got a point against one of the top teams in the league.

    "To finish the way we did with 10 men was encouraging and the desire to keep a clean sheet was unbelievable."

    Newport's home ground has been hit hard by both football and rugby being played on the surface and the winter weather. It was in poor condition and it did not help either team play passing football.

    Salford adapted to it much better in the first half, with Neville watching on from a hospitality box. Captain Tom Clarke missed their best opportunity with a header from close range.

    The game changed in the second half when Sheehan received the first red card of his career, but Salford could not take advantage and Newport finished the stronger.

    Their defender Mickey Demetriou appealed for a penalty in six minutes of added time and Newport were much more dangerous with substitute Tristan Abrahams in attack.

    Salford assistant Warren Joyce took charge of the League Two big spenders in Wellens' absence.

    Wellens was ill with a chest infection but had returned a negative Covid-19 test.

    "When we had the extra man we didn't use it well enough," said Joyce.

    "It wasn't a great surface and we had a plan. For 60-odd minutes we executed it well.

    "But we didn't play well when they went down to 10 men. We kept a clean sheet and to succeed in this league you have to fight. Our record for clean sheets this season is very good."

  • Gavin Strachan disappointed as Celtic fail to break down Livingston

    The Hoops were missing boss Neil Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players due to coronavirus restrictions.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:40 CET

    Gavin Strachan admitted Celtic had enough in their makeshift side to perform better than they did in their 0-0 home draw against Livingston.

    Boss Neil Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players were still self-isolating as close contacts of the injured Christopher Jullien, who was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 after returning from a training camp in Dubai.

    First-team coach Strachan was in charge for the disappointing 1-1 draw against Hibernian last Monday night and again for the visit of in-form Livingston.

    Despite having a rump of experienced players such as Nir Bitton, Shane Duffy, Callum McGregor, Diego Laxalt and Tom Rogic, the visitors were a match and deserved their point.

    Celtic are now 20 points behind Rangers with two games in hand, although the Light Blues quickly get the chance of another victory when they travel to Motherwell on Sunday.

    Strachan said: "Obviously the situation isn't ideal but we still had more than enough that we could display a better performance than we did.

    "There was certainly a lack of match fitness of certain players which probably means they are not as sharp as what you would like them to be.

    "But again the big frustration for me is that we didn't impose our style of play on the game.

    "There was a couple of decent performances but probably not so much standout ones.

    "The driving force was Callum McGregor. I thought Tom Rogic acquitted himself well today in a completely unfamiliar role as a number nine.

    "Tony Ralston came in, he has not really kicked a ball all season. Tony is a very honest and good professional and he gave his all but he tired towards the end.

    "It was a tough game, we knew it was going to be. They imposed their way of playing on us more than we did on them."

    Asked about the title race, he said: "It is very very difficult. In a normal football season I would say to you that it's going to be very, very tough but the way the world is just now you just never know."

    After eight straight wins – six in the league – since taking over from Gary Holt as Livingston manager, David Martindale dropped his first points but found himself in the unusual position of being disappointed that his side did not come away from Parkhead with more.

    Lennon, Kennedy and the rest of the self-isolating Hoops will return over the next couple of days and prepare for a rematch in West Lothian on Wednesday night.

    Martindale said: "We've been here and got a draw before but potentially we had a fantastic opportunity to get three points today.

    "I'll try not to dwell on the negatives. We've come to Celtic Park and got a point, we're still unbeaten and we got a clean sheet.

    "I need to watch what I'm saying because we play them again on Wednesday – Lenny will use this in his team talk!

    "I thought Celtic had some good chances as well and were a wee bit unlucky.

    "But on the balance of play and opportunities created, we were more unfortunate not to get three points.

    "No one really dominated the game. On reflection, I'm a bit disappointed but not surprised because this was still a very good Celtic team.

    "Hopefully we can make it even more difficult for them on Wednesday."

  • Marcelo Bielsa concerned by Leeds’ dip in form

    But Brighton boss Graham Potter is delighted by events at Elland Road on Saturday.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:34 CET

    Marcelo Bielsa admitted Leeds' dip in form was giving him cause for concern after their 1-0 home Premier League defeat to Brighton.

    Neal Maupay turned home the game's only goal in the 17th minute to clinch a first league win since November for the Seagulls.

    Leeds slipped to a third straight defeat in all competitions for the first time in 12 months under Bielsa and have yet to register a goal this year after struggling again to create chances.

    "I link that to the last two games, not the game against Tottenham, but this causes me worry," Bielsa said. Leeds mustered little in front of goal.

    Patrick Bamford completely missed Raphinha's low first-half cross six yards out and Jack Harrison fired narrowly wide at the start of the second period. Otherwise there was little else.

     Bielsa's side failed to retain possession in Brighton's half due to repeated misplaced passes on a heavy Elland Road pitch.

    "I don't want to link the performance or the defeat to the state of the pitch," Bielsa added.

    "I think we could have got a better result anyhow.

    "We defended below our capabilities, below our usual level. We only managed to recover the ball close to our own goal.

    "When we lost the ball the adaptations took us to the edge of our own area to recover the ball.

    "And we attacked below our usual capabilities. We didn't attack well and we didn't defend well. We didn't play well."

    Brighton halted a 10-game winless run in fine style as Maupay turned home from close range after Leandro Trossard and Alexis Mac Alister had carved open the Leeds defence.

    The Seagulls rounded off a testing week. They lost 1-0 at Manchester City in midweek after playing extra time in their FA Cup penalty shoot-out win at Newport last Sunday.

    "I'm very proud of the players," boss Graham Potter said.

    "It was a tremendous effort after a really tough and good week.

    "We played 120 minutes at Newport on a difficult pitch, long trip, to recover from that and then play Manchester City on Wednesday.

    "Then to come here against a Leeds team which is quite fresh, has got the physicality they have and attacking intent and to keep a clean sheet and restrict them to not many chances and score a good goal, I couldn't be happier for the players.

    "They've been fantastic. Great character, great personality and their quality as well."

  • Michael O’Neill happy with a point as 10-man Stoke draw against Blackburn

    Nick Powell gave the Potters the lead but John Buckley’s goal ensured the game finished 1-1.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:34 CET

    Stoke manager Michael O'Neill felt it was a case of a point gained after his side held on for a 1-1 draw at Blackburn despite finishing the game with 10 men.

    Nick Powell's header – his sixth goal this season and second against Blackburn – put Stoke ahead just before half-time and they bossed proceedings for large portions thereafter, but even though they struck a post and forced Thomas Kaminski into an outstanding save, they could not get the killer second and were made to pay 14 minutes from time through John Buckley's tap-in.

    The Potters were reduced to 10 men when skipper James Chester halted Adam Armstrong's surge clear of the Stoke defence but they held on and minimised the chances Blackburn created.

    Stoke are four points from sixth place after stretching their recent record to one win in seven in the league.

    But their unbeaten run on the road is now seven and O'Neill was pleased with his side's performance and character.

    He said: "There's a sense of disappointment because we were so dominant but when the game turns on its head, it's important you take something from it so I think we showed good character to do that because it would have been easy not to be able to show that resilience to take something from the game.

    The important thing for me was the level of performance was good. We freshened the team up, brought some young players in on loan. They helped us.

    "We're constantly trying to evolve the team and I felt for 70 minutes we showed that. We looked a very good team.

    We just have to continue to work and improve. We want to continue to push and challenge to be in the play-off, and today when we look back, we'd probably say it was a point gained.

    "Having been so dominant, it would have been harsh on us not to take something from the game."

    Blackburn are further away from the play-offs after conceding first for the fourth successive Ewood Park encounter in all competitions. Tony Mowbray felt his side's intensity was not at its usual level.

    He said: "We're disappointed with the nature of the goal we lost, of course. Their biggest threat came from set plays all day.

    "We didn't look like we could score for 70 minutes. I thought we needed more energy in the team. That's the balance I've talked about of (Bradley) Dack and (Lewis) Travis coming back from long-term injuries.

    "It's a call we have to make of whether we're going to get them fit by playing games or leave them out and they get 20 minutes, half an hour. I thought the team was off its intensity levels that we normally play at.

    "And yet we played against a decent side with very experienced footballers who have played at the top level. We huffed and puffed, got a goal, ended up playing the last 15 minutes against 10 men which didn't necessarily help us, I don't think, other than it took their threat of trying to score a goal away.

    "But we didn't really look like we were going to get a winner. We had plenty of stuff around the edge of their box without peppering their goal. I think that's their experience."

  • Harry Kewell wants Oldham to improve home form after picking up point at Walsall

    Walsall halted a three-game losing streak but are five points off the play-offs in 11th.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:34 CET

    Oldham boss Harry Kewell admitted he is bewildered why his Latics side are much better on the road than at home after a superb second-half display earned them a 1-1 draw at Walsall.

    The point was Oldham's 21st out of a possible 33 on their League Two travels this campaign, compared to a paltry seven from 36 at Boundary Park.

    They trailed to Zak Jules' close-range strike on the stroke of the interval but substitute Davis Keillor-Dunn's cool finish rewarded a second-half improvement.

    "People are still questioning the way we are performing but if it was flipped and our record was perfect at home and terrible away, everyone would say we were making progression," said Kewell.

    "I find it hard sometimes to understand the difference because it's a green pitch, white lines, referees, I don't get it. I could understand if it was packed crowds but it's not so it's a strange one.

    "It was a game of two halves and we allowed them to play their game, go long, get set-pieces and if you give someone enough chances to put the ball in the box unattended, they're going to have a chance of scoring.

    "It took us 10 minutes to get into the game in the second half but once I made the changes, there was only really one team that was going to win and it's just a shame we didn't get that extra goal."

    Walsall deservedly led through Jules' first league goal, which the assistant referee adjudged to have crossed the line despite Harry Clarke's appeals he had hacked it clear.

    But they were left hanging on after Keillor-Dunn controlled a cross and beat a defender before firing home. Walsall halted a three-game losing streak but are five points off the play-offs in 11th.

    Boss Darrell Clarke said: "I thought it was important, with the injuries we've got in the camp, to stop the rot today after three defeats.

    "You can see why Oldham have done so well away this season, chucking men forward. I thought we defended well up to a point then got a little bit sloppy with our ball possession.

    "We were a bit of a patched-up 18 today with quite a few young lads within that.

    "We are six points better off than we were at this point last season without really on many occasions getting my strongest XI out.

    "It's difficult at this level at the minute with the finances the way they are to have the strength to go into the market.

    "It will be nice when we can get that strongest team out there because we are more than a match for anyone. Yes, we've got to get a lot better but we can build."

  • Cardiff City 1 - 2 Norwich City - Match Report

    Norwich sitting pretty after win over Cardiff

    16 Jan 2021, 18:33 CET

    Norwich extended their lead at the top of the Championship with a 2-1 victory at 10-man Cardiff.

    Grant Hanley and Todd Cantwell struck inside the opening 22 minutes to dent Cardiff’s hopes of stopping the rot after four successive defeats in all competitions.

    Joe Ralls halved the deficit after 65 minutes but Cardiff were quickly hampered when Marlon Pack, captain in the absence of the injured Sean Morrison, was sent off for a second bookable offence.

    The result will pile more pressure on Cardiff manager Neil Harris, who has come under increasing scrutiny as the Bluebirds have fallen into the bottom half of the Championship.

    Cardiff were boosted before kick-off by the signing of Max Watters, who had scored 16 goals since joining League Two Crawley in October.

    The Bluebirds have been short of goals this season with only 29 in 22 league matches before the Canaries’ visit, but they also had the welcome sight of Wales striker Kieffer Moore on the bench after being out injured for five weeks.

    Cardiff could have been ahead inside 20 seconds but Harry Wilson’s terrible touch denied him a one-on-one opportunity with rookie Norwich goalkeeper Daniel Barden.

    It proved a costly miss as Mario Vrancic, having been denied by an Alex Smithies save, glanced on Emiliano Buendia’s third-minute corner and the unmarked Hanley headed home his first league goal since August 2018.

    Norwich had beaten Cardiff 2-0 at Carrow Road last month and chances kept coming as Vrancic headed over and the classy Cantwell twice curled wide.

    Barden saved from Robert Glatzel at the other end but Norwich doubled their lead as the halfway point of the first half approached.

    Kenny McLean’s defence-splitting pass found Jordan Hugill and, although Smithies blocked well, the ball fell for Cantwell to score against Cardiff for the second time this season.

    Norwich remained in control as McLean headed wide and Buendia fired into the side netting, but there was more urgency from Cardiff after the break.

    Will Vaulks’ volley forced Barden into action and Junior Hoilett’s rising shot cleared the crossbar.

    But Cardiff were almost undone again by a quick free-kick which saw McLean roll the ball into the path of the willing and speedy Max Aarons.

    The right-back’s cross evaded defenders and forwards alike until Vrancic swept it goalwards and Smithies pushed the ball to safety.

    Cardiff had hope when Leandro Bacuna set up Ralls from 12 yards and the midfielder rifled home into the corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

    Harris was punching the air at that point, but Pack was sent packing five minutes later after felling Oliver Skipp.

    Smithies stood tall to deny Cantwell and substitute Przemyslaw Placheta late on as Norwich preserved their lead to complete a season’s double over Cardiff.

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  • Dean Holden lauds Zak Vyner after his first goal for Bristol City

    Famara Diedhiou headed City in front from Tommy Rowe’s eighth minute corner.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:33 CET

    Dean Holden praised the versatility of Zak Vyner after the defender's midfield role resulted in him scoring his first Bristol City goal in a 2-0 win over Preston.

    Famara Diedhiou headed City in front from Tommy Rowe's eighth minute corner, but they were clinging on when Vyner struck 13 minutes from time.

    Although he appeared to mishit a left-footed shot from 15 yards, the ball crept inside the far post to stem North End's second half fightback. The closest Preston came to a goal was on 57 minutes when Paul Huntington's header clipped the crossbar from a Whiteman corner.

    A delighted Holden said: "Zak will score better goals, but he will always remember his first for us.

    "I was right behind the shot and my only concern was that it might spin wide. I just wish there had been a crowd and his family here to see it.

    "He deserved it because it was his first start for me in a new position and I thought his performance was outstanding.

    "It's always good to have versatile players in your squad and Zak is developing that way.

    "I thought it was a really solid team performance in the first half particularly. We knew Preston would come at us in the second half, but our game management was really good.

    "Tomas Kalas and Alfie Mawson are a really strong partnership for us at the back and we defended really well.

    "Famara Diedhiou has got us another important goal. Contract talks are continuing with him and hopefully there will be a resolution soon.

    "Chris Martin is such a clever player and did some excellent work alongside Fam.

    "But I was pleased with all the players. I did my coaching badges with Alex Neil and I knew he would have his team fired up to have a go at us after the break."

    Preston manager Neil was far from despondent about his side's display, but admitted they started slowly and didn't test City keeper Dan Bentley enough.

    "We didn't get started for 20 minutes," he said.

    "The players seemed to think we would be able to pop the ball around and play pretty football.

    "City were aggressive and won the midfield battle. The goal they scored came from us not defending the middle of our box, which was very disappointing.

    "But from then on, I didn't think there was much in the game. For 30 minutes in the second half we were totally dominant, but we didn't get our final ball right or create enough in their box.

    "Our wide players tended to drop back a bit when we fell behind and we never got enough quality crosses into their box.

    "Then they came back into it and scored a lucky second goal, which finished it for us."

    Neil gave debuts to goalkeeper Daniel Iversen and deep-lying midfielder Ben Whiteman.

    "I thought Ben grew into the game after being a bit safe with his passes in the first half," he said.

    "He needs time to bed into the team, but showed he could open up opponents in the second half.

    "Dan made a couple of saves, but really didn't have much to do. They didn't create much, but we have to be better in making our possession tell."

  • Bristol City 2 - 0 Preston North End - Match Report

    Jake Forster-Caskey scores direct from a corner as Charlton down Bristol Rovers

    16 Jan 2021, 18:32 CET

    Jake Forster-Caskey scored direct from a corner as 10-man Charlton beat Bristol Rovers 1-0 in Sky Bet League One at the Memorial Stadium.

    Forster-Caskey broke the deadlock in bizarre fashion after 64 minutes as his low and wicked corner bent inside the near post with the Gas defence stood rooted.

    The Addicks were reduced to 10 men five minutes from time when Albie Morgan saw a second yellow card for a challenge but Charlton held on.

    Both sides had their chances in a goalless first half, with Rovers keeper Joe Day saving Chuks Aneke’s firm effort from 12 yards before Ben Amos stretched out a leg to deny Luke McCormick an opening goal at the other end.

    There was a touch of controversy five minutes after the break, with Rovers striker Brandon Hanlan’s appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Peter Wright.

    Charlton looked to pounce on the counter and Connor Washington was clear on goal but Day was on hand to collect after a heavy touch.

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  • Daniel Farke proud of Norwich after Cardiff preparation disrupted by Covid-19

    The Canaries have won eight of their last 10 games.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:32 CET

    Norwich manager Daniel Farke lauded his side's 2-1 win at Cardiff after a week when he admitted they were more focused on Covid-19 tests than football.

    Grant Hanley and Todd Cantwell struck in the opening 22 minutes as Norwich extended their lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship to seven points before second-placed Swansea's late game.

    The Canaries reported nine Covid cases this week – four players and five backroom staff – while other members of the Norwich bubble have been laid low by flu. "I'm pretty pleased, proud I have to say," Farke said.

    "We had such a difficult week with so many Covid cases, nine in our group, and others missed the games because of flu.

    "When you show symptoms, it's just flu but you are panicking a little bit. We had to confront so many positive cases and all the testing.

    "Everyone was more focused on not panicking in waiting for the test results than being able to concentrate on football."

    Despite their illness and injury problems – top scorer Teemu Pukki is also currently sidelined with a side strain – Norwich have won eight of their last 10 games in all competitions.

    Norwich had to withstand late pressure after Joe Ralls drove home after 65 minutes, despite Cardiff being reduced to 10 men soon after when Marlon Pack picked up a second yellow card.

    "To deliver that performance was outstanding," Farke said.

    "We could have made our life easier in the second half. They got a goal out of nothing, but we got over the line.

    "We have quality players, but we also have such spirit and togetherness.

    "We are happy with 50 points at this stage. We are more or less labelled as the favourites in every other game, to deliver this consistency is outstanding but we have to keep going."

    Cardiff signed Max Watters for around GBP 1million before kick-off after his scoring exploits at Crawley this season, with 16 goals in 19 games for the League Two club.

    But it is now five straight defeats for Cardiff and the pressure continues to grow on manager Neil Harris. "I'm really proud of the performance, what an effort by the boys," Harris said.

    "What an effort for the 90 minutes, but for the last 25, with 10 men, we went toe to toe with by far the best team in the division.

    "On the whole, it's a massive positive. It might sound crazy we didn't get the point, if not three, we wanted.

    "But that's the level of performance my players have got to have for the rest of the season.

    "The application, the attitude, we had on the back of the week we had was first-class and I expect more of that and more quality on Wednesday against QPR."

  • Blackburn Rovers 1 - 1 Stoke City - Match Report

    Buckley leaves it late to steal a point for Blackburn

    16 Jan 2021, 18:31 CET

    John Buckley’s late equaliser helped Blackburn salvage a 1-1 draw against 10-man Stoke.

    If ever there was a game to neatly sum up the unpredictable nature of the Championship, this was it. Stoke dominated much of the game after Nick Powell’s bullet header put them in front seven minutes before the break.

    They hit the woodwork and created countless chances while hardly giving Rovers a sniff. But the game swung within four second-half minutes as Buckley levelled in the 76th minute with Blackburn’s second shot on target, and James Chester saw red for bringing down Adam Armstrong.

    But a defence that has conceded once in seven away games had the nous to hold on for a point when three looked far more likely.

    Both sides lost ground on the top six, as Blackburn have now won one in five, while the Potters are winless in four.

    Rovers made seven changes from the FA Cup defeat to Doncaster and handed a debut to on-loan defender Jarrad Branthwaite. The Potters gave new signings Rabbi Matondo and Rhys Norrington-Davies their first starts.

    Rovers struggled to break down Stoke’s miserly defence and the visitors took control from the moment they registered their first shot in the 38th minute, when Jordan Thompson’s pinpoint corner was met six yards out by Powell who powered his header past Thomas Kaminski.

    Thompson went agonisingly close to doubling the advantage moments later when neat interplay manufactured a position on the inside left and his left-foot shot rattled the far post with Kaminski beaten.

    The Blackburn goalkeeper then produced a fingertip save to deny Powell from another Thompson corner, as Stoke threatened to run away with the game before half-time.

    Stoke’s dominance continued in the second half as Jacob Brown’s low cross was parried into the six-yard box by Kaminski before Rovers scrambled clear, and the potent combination of Thompson and Powell combined yet again but the latter headed over from 12 yards.

    Despite the pattern of the game, the lead remained slender and Josef Bursik produced a fine reflex save to tip behind Armstrong’s vicious first-time shot in the 73rd minute.

    And out of nowhere, Rovers were level in the 76th minute when a deep cross was kept in play on the left by Elliott and his centre was tapped in from close range by Buckley.

    This remarkable game swung further towards the hosts two minutes later when Stoke’s captain Chester was shown a straight red card for bringing down Armstrong when he was set to race clear of the Potters’ defence.

    Rovers sensed an opportunity but Ben Brereton’s late low shot was saved by Bursik and Stoke ensured they left with a point.

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  • Paul Hurst urges struggling Grimsby to build on draw with Southend

    Just a single point separates the two sides at the bottom of League Two.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:30 CET

    Manager Paul Hurst wants Grimsby to use their 0-0 draw against fellow-strugglers Southend as a building block in the quest for League Two survival.

    Separated by one point ahead of kick-off, the EFL's bottom two sides played out a goalless and largely chanceless affair at Blundell Park.

    Hurst said: "We wanted three. But as much as we needed the points, it was important that we didn't lose and we took something from the game.

    "We didn't set up with that in mind. What we witnessed is two teams that are battling for their lives and, particularly ourselves, are struggling for form.

    "They have been picking up points and wins. From that point of view, it's a decent enough point for us and something to try and build on.

    "It's a clean sheet, so that's a little bit better. I can't fault the players for effort. I think you saw a committed group of players out there but, at the same time, there has to be a point where we add some quality to that.

    "There were times when the ball was kicked anywhere. We have to be better than that and show a little bit more thought in our play.

    "But at the same time, for the next few games, it doesn't matter how pretty it is, it's about picking up some points."

    James McKeown produced a fine save to deny Ashley Nathaniel-George towards the death, with the same man twice going close earlier in the afternoon.

    At the other end, Luke Spokes blazed over from 18 yards in the run up to half-time, while Matt Green saw his deflected strike comfortably gathered by Mark Oxley.

    Southend boss Mark Molesley said: "We were certainly trying to do everything we could to win the game. We probably looked the more convincing to do that.

    "We put some balls into the box, asked some questions, and their keeper has made a couple of good saves at the end.

    "But at the same time, if that was in your back garden you would close the curtains!

    "The elements probably played a part in that. Fair play to Grimsby, they did very well to get the game on. Half of the pitch played better.

    "It was very boggy on the far side. There was a lot on the line for both teams and they were tricky conditions, so you can forgive the players for not playing too risky. It was always going to be a battle out there.

    "It's one that we more than matched them in and really showed that resilience and the hard-to-beat side of the game. Having said that, we would like to create more chances."

  • Derby County 0 - 1 Rotherham United - Match Report

    Wayne Rooney off to losing start as Rotherham snatch late win at Derby

    16 Jan 2021, 18:30 CET

    Wayne Rooney’s first match in permanent charge of Derby ended with a 1-0 defeat at home to Championship relegation rivals Rotherham.

    The former England captain was officially confirmed as the Rams’ manager on Friday, having held the post on an interim basis since the departure of Phillip Cocu in November.

    But his reign got off to an inauspicious start as Jamie Lindsay’s late strike sent County second bottom of the table.

    Rotherham moved ahead of their opponents on goal difference and they also have two games in hand on the teams around them.

    The standout news from Rooney’s team selection was his decision to hand the captain’s armband to 19-year-old Jason Knight.

    Knight’s midfield colleague Graeme Shinnie registered the game’s first shot on target when he hit a rasping drive which visiting goalkeeper Jamal Blackman was more than equal to.

    Rotherham then broke quickly, with Wes Harding picking out Michael Smith inside the area, but he could only plant an effort wide.

    Lee Buchanan drilled an effort towards Blackman’s right-hand post after 26 minutes, but the Chelsea loanee got down quickly to turn it behind for a corner.

    Rotherham thought they had taken the lead 10 minutes before the break. Captain Richard Wood applied a fine finish inside the area but, after a brief delay, Wood was ruled offside and the goal was chalked off.

    The second half was an even more cagey affair, with chances at a premium.

    Martyn Waghorn fluffed a rare opportunity when well-placed after 70 minutes, firing wide of goal from just a couple of yards out.

    The game livened up as it headed into the latter stages and Shinnie again tested Blackman from close range before Waghorn’s looping header almost caught the keeper off-guard.

    But, after soaking up pressure, the Millers snatched victory against the run of play in the 86th minute.

    Shortly after having a goalbound effort hacked away by a back-tracking defender, Lindsay knocked home the winner from a few yards after Daniel Barlaser’s free-kick had crashed against a post.

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  • AFC Bournemouth 0 - 1 Luton Town - Match Report

    Luton climb into top half of Championship table with win at 10-man Bournemouth

    16 Jan 2021, 18:28 CET

    Luton earned their third win in four games thanks to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s goal midway through the second half to beat Bournemouth 1-0.

    The Cherries played most of the match with 10 men as Jefferson Lerma was sent off after 25 minutes for leading with an arm in an aerial challenge with Tom Lockyer which left the Luton defender with a cut that required heavy bandaging.

    The defeat leaves the Cherries trailing the automatic promotion places whilst Luton climbed into the top half of the table.

    The first half was played at a frenetic pace but both sides were short of a cutting edge.

    Luke Berry’s misplaced back header was seized on by Josh King but he could make a firm connection with his volley.

    Later in the half, Simon Sluga saved from King at the near post after neat approach work from the Cherries.

    After few chances in the first half, Bournemouth were thankful for three brilliant saves from Asmir Begovic at the start of the second.

    First he denied Glen Rea with a brilliant reflex stop before a double save to deny first Berry and then Dewsbury-Hall.

    Bournemouth were reduced to attacking on the break and they almost took the lead when King broke down the left flank and slid the ball into the path of Dominic Solanke whose goal-bound shot was brilliantly diverted round the post by the recovering Dan Potts.

    Nathan Jones had switched to a back four at half-time to allow an extra man to push into midfield after starting the game in a 5-3-2 formation.

    The Hatters took advantage of their extra man as former Bournemouth forward Harry Cornick teed up Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the area and he buried a shot into the far corner.

    Jason Tindall made a raft of changes in an attempt to get back into the game but Luton were relentless in their work rate and organisation.

    The usually free-scoring Cherries have struggled to break down both Millwall and Luton this week and the outcome of their quest for promotion is likely to depend in large part on their ability to find a way past teams who set up to frustrate them.

    The return of King ought to have provided a welcome tonic for Tindall but the Norway striker looks a shadow of the player who was linked with Manchester United in last January’s transfer window.

    The Hatters can now look upwards after a good run of results ahead of a tough-looking trip to Brentford on Wednesday.

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  • Neil Cox believes Scunthorpe are ‘feeling the pressure’ after Barrow defeat

    Michael Jolley’s Bluebirds leapfrogged stuttering Scunthorpe as they inflicted a fifth league defeat in six games for the visitors.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:27 CET

    Disappointed Scunthorpe boss Neil Cox berated his players after losing 1-0 at fellow strugglers Barrow. Michael Jolley's Bluebirds leapfrogged stuttering Scunthorpe as they inflicted a fifth league defeat in six games for the visitors.

    Josh Kay's goal separated the two sides at Holker Street, with Junior Brown sent off for the visitors after a tussle with Scott Quigley late on.

    Barrow's Luke James went to hospital after being knocked unconscious following a clash of heads with Jordan Clarke.

    Cox said: "I just think with the way we don't react from our mistakes when we give it away was poor.

    "One or two of the lads just weren't on it today, and I expressed how important this game was away from home.

    "One or two people weren't up to scratch, I think they're feeling the pressure a bit. We've got a lot of young men who are feeling the pressure that I'm demanding off them.

    "One of two don't like it when I demand a lot off them, but that's the way I'm going to be. I'm going to keep demanding and keep pushing for points.

    "We keep conceding silly goals and we're bitterly disappointed with that.

    "All defeats are worrying, we're in a dog fight and we need to pick up points in the next 23 games.

    "They're all important, it doesn't matter what game's coming up next."

    Barrow boss Jolley was delighted with a battling three points but his first thoughts were understandably with James, who was carried off the pitch on a stretcher in a neck brace.

    He admitted: "We're just hoping Luke James is going to be OK.

    "There was a long delay in the game because there was a serious injury to him, he was knocked out on the pitch.

    "He regained consciousness back in the dressing room, but he's gone off to hospital and our first thoughts are that he's going to be OK."

    The Bluebirds opened up a welcome two-point gap over the relegation zone with their first win since Boxing Day. And Jolley added: "It was a really important three points. "It was always going to be one of those games between two teams who are near each other in the table.

    "It was a real battle and the most important thing when the game is like that is to win it and we did that.

    "We want to be a footballing team, we want to keep the ball and play. "But equally that's only one aspect of the game, you've got to defend your goal really well and work towards a clean sheet.

    "We're not looking to use master one aspect, we're looking to master them all

  • Watford 2 - 0 Huddersfield Town - Match Report

    Bizarre Tom Cleverley goal sets Watford on way to Huddersfield victory

    16 Jan 2021, 18:27 CET

    A bizarre goal by Tom Cleverley set promotion-chasing Watford on the way to a 2-0 Championship victory at home to midtable Huddersfield.

    The midfielder opened the scoring in the 54th minute by charging down Ryan Schofield’s clearance straight into the Terriers’ net, after the goalkeeper had reacted far too slowly to a backpass.

    Joao Pedro doubled the lead 10 minutes later as the Hornets moved above Reading and into fifth place in the table.

    Watford had handed a first league start to goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann after Ben Foster was ruled out by a finger injury.

    Huddersfield, with almost a whole team sidelined, gave Newcastle loanee Rolando Aarons a full debut.

    Just 10 minutes had passed before the game had its first shot of value. Joao Pedro launched the ball from 12 yards after Ismaila Sarr’s cross had fallen to him but Schofield dived to parry.

    The visitors were fortunate when Sarr won a free-kick that Cleverley lofted on to the head of Adam Masina in the box, but no Hornet had anticipated the knock-down.

    Kiko Femenia then scudded a cross from the right across goal as the half continued to lack any quality in the final third.

    The Terriers were superior in the passing stakes but Watford’s more direct approach saw Schofield rush out to boot away before the pacy Sarr could pounce.

    The hosts’ frustrations manifested themselves in a booking for captain Troy Deeney for a recklessly-late challenge on Juninho Bacuna in front of the Town dugout.

    It was not until two minutes before the break that the game’s second shot was fired, again at Schofield, who dived to make a similar stop, this time to deny Sarr.

    Huddersfield’s first shot came in the 53rd minute but Bacuna’s 20-yard effort was always on the rise.

    Cleverley opened the scoring a minute later thanks to a moment of catastrophic indecision from Schofield.

    Alex Vallejo – making his first Championship start – passed the ball gently back to his goalkeeper, who dithered so much that Cleverley was able to charge down the eventual clearance attempt into the net.

    Watford doubled the lead through Joao Pedro, who converted Femenia’s ball across goal at the back post after Sarr and a defender had both failed to get a touch. It was the teenage Brazilian striker’s sixth league goal of the season.

    Substitute Scott High forced Bachmann into his first and only save of the afternoon with 12 minutes remaining before Hornets replacement James Garner was only just too high at the other end.

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  • Darren Moore pleased his Doncaster players were rewarded for keeping to the plan

    Rovers won 2-1 at Swindon to maintain their promotion push in Sky Bet League One.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:27 CET

    Doncaster manager Darren Moore saluted his side's professionalism after they continued their promotion push with a 2-1 win at Swindon.

    Fejiri Okenabirhie's brace secured the points at the County Ground to leave opponents Swindon rooted in the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.

    Moore, whose side have seen a number of their recent matches postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said:

    "It's been a tough week.

    "We've had to maintain our professionalism and we've come here with a game plan. "

    We knew today we had to come here and be good and once we'd got our two goals we knew our work off the ball had to be good.

    "We had that spirit, that togetherness, to make sure we came out of the game with three points.

    "When they got the goal midway through the second half, we got the message to the boys to stick to the game plan. Everything came from crosses from the box and our centre-backs did well."

    The writing was on the wall for Swindon in the fifth minute when Okenabirhie, played in by Reece James, had the simple task of slotting in to break the deadlock.

    Okenabirhie doubled his and Doncaster's tally in first-half stoppage time with a close-range header after Andy Butler headed a right-wing cross back across goal.

    Hallam Hope got Swindon back into the contest on 71 minutes by diverting a long-range Scott Twine shot into the far corner, wrong-footing Ellery Balcombe in the Doncaster goal.

    Aside from the goal, Swindon rarely troubled Doncaster, although Matt Smith went close with a shot that went just wide of the far post following nicely worked build-up play from Dom Thompson and Brett Pitman.

    Twine also attempted to keep up his reputation of a long-range strike specialist but one of his long-range efforts was easily saved and the other dipped narrowly over the bar.

    Swindon manager John Sheridan warned his players they have to stop giving their opponents a head start.

    He explained: "It's very similar to a lot of performances we've had, we just give ourselves a mountain to climb by giving goals away and we're always chasing.

    "We've been beaten but it's a good spirited performance I think against a really good side and you wouldn't know who's top and bottom, we've just to be switched on.

    "That first goal gives you the belief that you can get something but we just concede first too often. "I thought we played very well second half without creating too much."

  • Carlos Corberan lays no blame on goalkeeper Ryan Schofield after Watford defeat

    The Hornets moved up to fifth place thanks to second-half goals from Tom Cleverley and Joao Pedro.

    16 Jan 2021, 18:27 CET

    Huddersfield manager Carlos Corberan insisted there was no need for goalkeeper Ryan Schofield to apologise for the clanger that cost his side the opening goal in a 2-0 Championship loss at Watford.

    The Hornets moved up to fifth place thanks to second-half goals from Tom Cleverley and Joao Pedro.

    The latter was a close-range finish from a smart move but the former was very much in the 'preventable' category as Schofield reacted far too slowly to Alex Vallejo's backpass, allowing Cleverley to slide in and find the net.

     Corberan said: "There is no doubt that Ryan Schofield is involved in the action, Alex Vallejo is also involved, but this is what it is like to play football.

    "We need to keep our concentration in the key moments of the game. If you don't have the right concentration in the moment, you don't make the right decisions. You will suffer the consequences as any mistake is going to have a high impact.

    "I do not expect him to apologise. I was talking to my players after the game like I always do. I try to help them in my way.

    "Ryan has everything to play in the Championship, that is why he is our first goalkeeper right now.

    "We started the game the way we wanted to play but the team didn't create enough chances.

    "The team did completely well until we gave one goal to them. After we gave this present to them it was impossible for us to win the game but the team did not give up at any moment."

    Watford manager Xisco Munoz hailed Cleverley as the perfect role model in a side that works hard but is arguably lacking in real class.

    "Tom is a perfect example of what we need – the passion every time to win the ball," he said. "This is our way and our fans will be happy with Tom.

    "We had control of the game and the ball and I am happy with the players. The first half was difficult but in the second we made more chances."

    Watford's task would have been harder had captain Troy Deeney been shown a red card instead of a yellow for a bad foul in the first half on Juninho Bacuna.

    "He didn't touch him – he touched the ball, no," said Xisco with a smile.

    "No, I don't think it was an action for a red card. I am happy with Troy because he was involved in all the action and this is good for the team."

    Watford also remembered former manager Graham Taylor, who died four years ago.

    "He is an important man and if you can give the fans three points, it is important," Xisco said.